Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 16th: Back to Italy-- this time Florence:

It has come to my attention that I forgot to talk about the heat in Rome and, in general, Italy. It is very hot now that we are in the southern portion of Europe. The hotel rooms, although they are very very nice, have very questionable air conditioning systems-- in other words, there are thermostats that have buttons we can press and knobs we can turn, but they might be more of a placebo than anything. It is very sunny and very hot-- my room thermostat says 30 C-- which i believe is about 86 F! This all being said, I now resemble the fine form that I did when I returned from my sunblockless trip to South Padre a year ago. It was put best by my favorite trumpeter in the band: "can I call you rock lobster?"
Several people have asked whether or not I have tried gelato-- and of course I have. I've had it twice (a couple small scoops each time) and enjoyed it immensely. My two favorite flavors are Coffee and lemon--- I love the texture of the coffee (it contains whole coffee beans), and the flavor of the lemon is great! (plus, it is great for cutting the feeling of heat exhaustion).
Back to the present:
Early in the afternoon, we arrived in the small Tuscan city of Arezzo. I knew that I was oddly familiar with that name-- then Justin Stanton (4th trumpet) pointed out the obvious. Guido de Arezzo was from... tadaa: Arezzo. Over half the band remembered who Guido de Arezzo was (thus exposing our true social dysfunctionality and music-nerdiness)-- the other half remembered when it was reminded that he is responsible for the Guidonian hand, an early tool that was used to explain music theory....Dr. Nordstrom would be proud. Apparently, the residents of Arezzo are also aware that Guido is from here, as there is a large statue and square bearing his name (Piazza Guido Monaco).-- Although, I found the monument slightly anticlimactic-- in the words of Jason Hausbak (4th trombone), "maybe I was just expecting a giant hand."
In the early evening, we drove to a different city to play our evening concert. The venue is a stage in a square just off of a larger square in the center of the city. The area is what I picture when I think "Italian city": cobblestone streets, blocks of solid buildings made of brightly colored stucco (so it appeared), children running through the street playing soccer, and people who resemble my grandfather riding bikes throughout the square (my grandfather was Italian). This city is completely different from Rome; the people you see in the streets are not tourists, they actually reside in the city. Many of the residents do not speak English, and they stop to see what is distracting them from completing their daily tasks.
We soundchecked in the early evening and then sat down to a traditional 3 course Italian meal with wine. In Italy, it is customary to eat around 8:30 in the evening-- we were ready to eat when the food came. The meal was excellent (and on the house)-- and not without excitement (a woman at a table next to us had a seizure-- luckily she was ok). Around 9:30 we played to a full square of eager listeners. The band played an atypical set: it swung really hard. We decided that it would be in our best interest to play a lot of the music of Thad Jones and other people along that vein. It went over very well and the band was well received! Many people were interested in our recordings and were asking when we would be returning--- maybe Weist should plan a trip for next year?!
Not much else worth mentioning happened that evening-- which is very surprising considering out hotel rooms were each outfitted with doorbells. Most people were quite apprehensive when we discovered these "gems" earlier in the day. In a band full of pranksters, this could make for a long night. Luckily the band collectively reached the point of exhaustion-- I didnt hear one single buzzer.

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